I must confess after researching my assignment of Act Like A GRRR!, I was apprehensive. Their description given to Fringe reads as follows: “Act Like a GRRRL (ALAG) is performance of stories, dances and songs created by teenage girls about their lives. As GRRRLs find their voice and speak their truths on stage, they transform themselves and their audiences.”
Despite my best attempts to keep an open mind, the closer I got to curtain the more visions of Taylor Swift crept into my mind – and not today’s edgy, self-aware, Blank Space Taylor Swift. I’m talking about 2008’s full-blown teenage angst “You Belong With Me” Taylor Swift.
Luckily, there were eight powerful GRRRLs there last night to keep me grounded.
From their website: “Founded in 2005 by Vali Forrister, Act Like a GRRRL is an annual four-week autobiographical writing program for girls aged 12-18 offering the space and support for young women to gain a public voice, work with professional female mentors in a variety of creative fields, and foster friendships with peers from diverse backgrounds.” Originally formed in Bon Aqua, TN, this is Act Like a GRRRL’s third year operating in their namesake’s hometown and their first year performing as a part of Capital Fringe.
The show itself is a series of poetry, song and dance written in one week, rehearsed in four days, and performed by eight GRRRLs aged 12-17 (with the help of two veteran MCs.) And, for what it’s worth, it is nothing like You Belong With Me (though if I’m to be completely honest, even if it had been I can’t say I would’ve minded too much.) Rather, this iteration of Act Like a GRRRL is touching, powerful, and at times unflinchingly honest (but Ms. Swift isn’t? I digress…)
Act Like a GRRRL!
by The GRRRLs
Director: Jenna Stotts and Tasneem Grace Tewgobola
Choreography: Jenna Stotts
Details and tickets
Here, these GRRRLs speak candidly about the pressures placed on young women to remain silent in the face adversity. They speak openly about the strength that blooms when young women learn to support one another, rather than cut one another down as is often expected of them. And, perhaps most importantly, they rejoice in their discovery of a love and respect for themselves and their own agency.
At times a bit raw and unpolished, I should also say that at one point last night I heard a poem so striking that I stopped taking notes mid-sentence as my jaw gaped to the floor. Succinctly, Act Like a GRRRL is no after-school special. Anyone with a vested interest in the future of feminism in America need look no further than here. And, to the GRRRLs: I’m sorry. I was a fool to have ever doubted you.
I should say one more thing: I’ve given Act Like a GRRRL a well-deserved “four” rating, but in large part because I am required to rate everything I write about at Fringe. If I were to repay them with the same honesty they showed me, I wouldn’t give these GRRRLs a rating at all because they deserve no qualification. To borrow their own words, they themselves are enough.